A World of Change in a Dramatically Changing World
Imagine a large Fortune-500 financial institution.
Now imagine this financial institution decides to transform its overall work management methodology, that it had followed for 10 years across hundreds of marketing professionals and dozens of teams, into a new digitally-based methodology, to deliver ever-increasing volumes of marketing output.
Now imagine the complete operating paradigm shift, the massive process redesign and the end-to-end enabling technology configuration effort that such a digital transformation entails.
Now imagine this large financial institution announces a merger with another even larger financial institution midstream during that overall digital transformation.
Now imagine the organizational upheaval this merger entails, with departments realigned, team members leaving, new team members arriving, role responsibilities evolving.
Finally, for good measure, imagine all of this happening in the middle of a global pandemic, forcing everyone to lose physical contact, work from home, and interact remotely.
That, in a nutshell, is the world of constant and overwhelming change that our Client faced each and every day over the past 18 months. And that is the backdrop of complete and comprehensive disruption that engulfed our Client as it worked tirelessly to achieve a Workfront-based digital work management transformation across its global marketing operations.
Yet, in the end, our Client succeeded. Against all odds, they successfully pivoted to a completely new work management paradigm – powered entirely by Workfront.
Today, our Client’s new Workfront-based solution is live, business processes are streamlined, a single source of truth spans across all teams, compliance and regulatory standards are met with unprecedented levels of speed and accuracy, and end-users are onboard, satisfied and happy.
And all of us here at EMMsphere couldn’t be more proud of them. It’s an absolute joy to see them succeed, and an honor to have lent a hand in their amazing adventure.
And this is their story.
Increasing Speed to Market
Overall, our Client’s Workfront-based initiative represented a comprehensive 18-month digital transformation of its work management practices across all marketing-related personnel, teams and departments which are geographically dispersed throughout the USA (Midwest, East Coast, West Coast) and across the globe (Europe, China, Singapore, Hong Kong).
Over the course of those 18 months, our Client radically changed both how work gets done as well as the speed at which work gets done.
At a foundational level, this effort entailed replacing the Client’s historical work management methodology, which they had been following for 10 years, with a new Workfront-based enabling solution – along with all of the process redesign, configuration, testing, end-user learning and change management that such an effort involves.
But given the dramatic and unprecedented amount of business (merger), organizational (personnel) and environmental (pandemic) change surrounding the digital transformation initiative, the implications were vastly broader and deeper than simply adding new work management-related features or capabilities.
In short, our Client dramatically changed its entire work management methodology, from a centralized, structured and rigid approach to a much more decentralized, flexible, and dynamic paradigm. This new paradigm now provides our Client with significantly more adaptability to change, and greatly improves visibility into all work being done across its global marketing operations.
Today, our Client’s Workfront-based workstreams orchestrate and manage seamless flows of work from start to finish, allowing adjustments for local needs, while still adhering to enterprise-wide brand standards, compliance guidelines and regulatory imperatives.
Our Client’s new Workfront-based solution accelerates work across teams by leveraging a streamlined and simplified library of 70 workflows, each of which encompasses end-to-end automation from concepting through approvals to filing of compliance-approved assets and supporting documentation in WORM (write-once-read-many) storage.
Key achievements with respect to Speed to Market include:
- Compliance asset and data storage. Our Client’s WORM storage for all compliance-approved assets and supporting documentation is now integrated via Workfront Fusion, and occurs accurately and automatically at the end of all workflows in minutes. Before, WORM filing occurred manually, and typically took days (and often multiple attempts). In fact, the old manual storage process typically consumed 40 hours per month – resources that are now happily redirected elsewhere.
- Process and template changes. New marketing campaign workflows and modifications to existing workstreams are now executed in hours, sometimes even “while you wait,” by leveraging Workfront templates and the ability for key personnel to become self-sufficient and create template variations themselves. Previously, workstream changes were all submitted and executed by one centralized administrative resource, causing backlog and delays.
- System integration and automation. New integrations and automations via Workfront Fusion into ancillary systems such as WorkDay (financial data) eliminated elapsed days in cycle time from every workstream in the system. With these new Fusion integrations, marketing managers can view purchase order, invoice and financial information relating to marketing initiatives with the click of a mouse, a data-consolidation effort that previously was executed manually only once per week.
- Online proof and review. Initially by choice, then later by necessity (given the pandemic and the complete shift to remote work), our Client quickly embraced Workfront’s online proofing capabilities. What was originally thought of as a vehicle to automate and expedite reviews ultimately became a key facilitator and enabler in the global work-from-home environment. Marketing and compliance reviews continued without disruption, with cycle times often 20-40% faster than before the pandemic.
Managing Complex Business Processes
Our Client’s marketing operations span across 20+ different teams, 15+ functions and 10+ geographic locations. All told, our Client’s marketing operations involve 550 total users and 200 daily active users, working on approximately 1,000 active projects at any given time, each with a typical duration of 25 days, creating 40-50 new projects every day and requiring 250 compliance reviews each week.
To manage this enormous volume of work, our Client historically employed literally hundreds of marketing processes (283 in fact) – teams would simply create new processes rather than try to leverage existing ones. Over time, this led to a proliferation of work processes that needed to be managed and maintained, and confusion as to which was the right workstream for which purpose.
The result was widespread inconsistency with respect to business, brand and compliance processes, and an inability to determine real-time status across projects and teams. With the merger of our Client with an even larger organization, this proliferation of complexity threatened to increase exponentially.
So, throughout its Workfront-based digital transformation initiative, our Client took deliberate action to streamline and simplify their rapidly escalating process complexity.
To that end, our Client drastically rationalized and streamlined their extensive library of business processes to create a consolidated operational system of record for all marketing-related work and data. In addition, our Client made extensive (and ubiquitous) use of reports and dashboards, to provide real-time visibility into the consolidated work, from the specific point-of-view needed by each constituency.
Key achievements with respect to effective Management of Complex Business Processes include:
- Process rationalization. The previous methodology’s 283 processes were streamlined and standardized down to approximately 70 Workfront-based workflows – a 75% reduction in total number of processes.
- Process simplification. The average number of tasks/steps per process was reduced from over 35 to less than 25 – a 33% reduction in tasks per process on average.
- Naming conventions. Project and task naming rules were standardized across all teams and workstreams, providing a common nomenclature and glossary of terms for all marketing work, organization-wide.
- Work alignment. Marketing projects are now aligned to a common set of goals and objectives, and grouped within corresponding programs and portfolios. Leadership now has instantaneous visibility into all lines of work, where status, financial information, and resources are consolidated and rolled-up into one source of truth.
- Dashboards. Each group now has its own purpose-built Workfront dashboard, allowing them to view the status of work items specific to them at-a-glance.
- Expiration and exception reports. Asset and material expiration reports are now extensively deployed (and automatically delivered on a scheduled basis) for key teams such as marketing management and compliance, enabling them to view real-time asset status as well as enabling them to adjust (in-place on the report itself) upcoming expiration-related data that is sorted by priority, and color-coded by action required (via conditional formatting).
Improving User Experience
Given the amount of unforeseen change that happens at this Client on any typical day (e.g. changes in marketing priority, resource availability, due dates), further compounded by the avalanche of unprecedented change brought on by the digital transformation, the merger, the organizational realignment and the pandemic, it became absolutely critical for our Client’s marketing associates to achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency.
A key challenge for the Workfront-based initiative, therefore, was to provide that higher level of self-sufficiency – which in turn depended on creating an improved and intuitive user experience that would propel user adoption and engagement – in a way that would not compromise output quality, brand standards, compliance imperatives and speed to market.
Key achievements with respect to Improving User Experience include:
- Dramatically improved consistency. Our Client’s newly streamlined library of approximately 70 business processes now all employ the same methodology, consolidated roles, consistent review and control gates, and a similar format. This end-to-end consistency greatly simplified end-user understanding, training and adoption. In fact, an adoption survey taken after rollout indicated 84% overall end-user satisfaction (vs. 45% under the previous solution).
- On-platform collaboration. Our Client encouraged extensive use of the “update” and “chat” capabilities available in Workfront, within work tasks as well as within the context of projects and programs. Marketing associates now spend more of their time collaborating on-platform rather than scattering their ideas across email, instant messages, voice mail, etc.
- Leveraged Workfront’s “request” capability across the board. As one would expect, our Client uses Workfront requests for marketing intake. But requests are now also used for help requests, resource requests, and process change requests. Responses to user-initiated requests are now provided in a matter of minutes or hours, where previously it would often take days – a newfound responsiveness that’s enthusiastically appreciated by the user community.
- Simplified compliance submissions. Further leveraging the request capability, marketing associates now have the option to submit assets for regulatory review “direct to compliance,” as opposed to always needing to traverse an entire (and sometimes extensive) business process in every case. This expedites fire-alarm compliance approvals. It also affords associates more latitude in terms of decision-making for shepherding their work through compliance approval.
- Context-oriented training and change management. Our Client understood that end-user self-sufficiency required knowledge of the solution’s features and functions, but more importantly, it required the ability to problem-solve and creatively apply solution capabilities in real-life scenarios. So users were brought into the transformational initiative early-on, ensuring their needs were incorporated during the configuration and validation phases. This significantly expedited user understanding, adoption and change management – by the time formal training took place, most users were already familiar with the solution and its overall operating metaphor.
Leveraging Cross-Functional Collaboration
Given the nature of the unprecedented methodology, organization, business and environmental change that our Client faced in the past 18 months, driving a renewed sense of collaboration was no longer just beneficial, but also, one might say, absolutely necessary for survival.
Our Client realized that creating an operational system of record in a way that facilitated teamwork, shared and consolidated ideas, and fostered the willing and enthusiastic participation from end-users across teams and constituencies was the only way that it would be able to successfully pivot from the old way of working to the new way.
So, the entire transformational initiative was approached from the start in an open, welcoming and participative manner. Our Client solicited broad input, incorporated diverse opinions, synthesized disparate points-of-view and developed broad consensus. Ultimately, this same collaborative spirit found its way into the day-to-day use of the new Workfront-based solution, building a sense of camaraderie, shared purpose and can-do attitude throughout the Client’s user community.
Key achievements with respect to cross-functional collaboration to pivot strategies include:
- Change justification. After running marketing operations for 10 years with an existing work management methodology, our Client had to prepare a substantial business case to justify an overall transformational change. This entailed analyzing user satisfaction levels, comparing Workfront’s platform capabilities vs. the needs of dozens of teams, ensuring compliance and regulatory requirements were met, and formulating an extensive economic cost vs. benefit analysis. Our Client achieved this by drawing and consolidating input from 20+ departments that would be directly or indirectly impacted, ensuring all voices were incorporated and factored into the analysis and decision-making process. In the end, our Client achieved a decision that was broadly vetted, and created a shared vision and consensus that all participants could enthusiastically embrace.
- Compliance history and audits. In previous years, our Client had faced regulatory audits and penalties, to which the entire organization was deeply sensitized – a mitigation strategy was urgently needed. Meeting the audit-reduction imperative meant acknowledging that this was not just a compliance-related challenge, but rather an end-to-end work management challenge. In creating a Workfront-based solution that would adhere to regulatory requirements and reduce audits and fines, our Client revamped how marketing assets are approved (via Workfront proofing capabilities), how and when project data is captured along each workstream (via Workfront tasks and custom forms), how assets and data are stored and filed (via Workfront Fusion), and how they are expired and removed (via automated Workfront reports). Dozens of Client personnel from Marketing, IT, Compliance, Creative Studio, and Operations were involved in this effort. And so far, our Client has remained audit-free.
- Data migration. In order to successfully launch the new Workfront-based system, our Client had to consolidate and migrate over 7 years of required historical process and creative asset history into Workfront – a total of 65,549 programs, 66,401 projects, and 682,457 document links. With so much information involved – all with regulatory implications – no single person, team or department at our Client had a full understanding of everything. Our Client was able to assemble a cross-functional team from Marketing, IT, Finance, Compliance, Procurement and outside consultants to methodically assemble a wholistic view of all necessary data, then develop and execute a comprehensive migration plan. Within 3 months, all required data was successfully migrated into Workfront and verified for accuracy.
About EMMsphere Services
EMMsphere is an end-to-end marketing solutions technology consulting and managed services provider. We offer a comprehensive array of services to help large organizations define, build, and maintain alignment across their marketing operations in order to successfully achieve their ultimate destination.
Over the course of this particular success story, our team provided expertise and resources related to the following EMMsphere services areas: